China has punished eight former officials of Wukan for corruption, including the previous Communist party chief, state media said on Monday after their land grabs sparked an unprecedented uprising. Villagers in Wukan, in the southern province of Guangdong, began demonstrating in September last year over illegal land transfers by local officials. The protests escalated and grabbed international headlines after a rebel leader died in police custody in December, prompting villagers to barricade roads leading into Wukan and face off against security forces for more than a week. Wukan became a symbol of resistance against corruption, and to defuse the protests authorities backed down and promised rare concessions, including investigating the land dispute and allowing open village elections. Guangdong party authorities announced on Monday that eight Wukan officials had been punished for corruption following a three month inquiry, the official Xinhua news agency said. The included former party secretary Xue Chang, who villagers claim ran the fishing and farming village as a private fiefdom for years.
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